This is an area that troubles us greatly, having observed the behavior of some children abroad in relation to household employees.

Our firm opinion is that children should treat all others with dignity and respect, and that children should respond to the teaching and care of adults in a way that respects both sides. We therefore object to young children giving orders and making demands of adult household employees. This is particularly offensive, we feel, in societies where age is synonymous with respect.

I just don't want my daughter to lay on the couch watching TV while ordering someone else stop his other work and fetch the juice for her.

We also believe that even in places where help is cheap and plentiful, and where many tasks such as marketing and cleaning are difficult and/or dangerous, children should be responsible for household chores you categorize as safe and appropriate. We feel it is wrong to have a child ignore a messy room, knowing she will order the household employee to clean it up before Mom gets home from work.

This is one of the sharpest points of view expressed on this web site, but one we feel quite strongly about, having seen what we feel was rude, insensitive and in some places, racially-tinged inappropriate behavior on the parts of children too young to be giving orders.

A March 1, 2000 Associated Press story out of Malaysia reported on the conditions one maid was forced to endure. Her employer would beat her with a cane, bloodying and blackening her eyes so badly that they would swell shut. Following his mother's example, the 6-year-old child in the house began smacking the maid too, and demanded she follow him with a pan for his urine so that he would not have to stop playing to use the toilet.

The news clipping above is an extreme case to be sure, but illustrates how far out of hand these things can get. We'll finish by reminding that many times children's behavior and attitudes toward household employees are guided by what their parents say and do. Hmmm.

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